Everything, Everything is the film adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s New York Times Bestseller of the same name. In Everything, Everything Madeline “Maddy” Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) lives in a world defined by glass and daydreams. Diagnosed as a baby with a severe immunodeficiency, her world is limited to the four (luxurious) walls of her home – she’s never lived in the outside world. Enter Olly (Nick Robinson), the boy who moves in next door… and brings the world with him.
Working from a screenplay written by J. Mills Goodloe, Director Stella Meghie, navigates heavy issues using convincing relationship dynamics, heartwarming moments, aptly placed humor, and a light touch. With Maddy as narrator, a quality cast, and cleverly designed scenes that bring the conversations between Maddy and Olly conducted via text to life; Everything, Everything is a touching, if not completely lighthearted – coming of age story.
Maddy lives in sterile but vibrant environment intended to keep her safe and alive. Her physician mother (Anika Noni Rose) is understandably protective but doting; they have a deep and loving relationship. Maddy wants for nothing, except the freedom. Olly lives in a chaotic environment permanently semi-unsettled. His mother timid and his father hostile; his home life is volatile. Olly breathes free and wants for nothing, except stability.
Everything, Everything uses the budding romantic relationship between Olly and Maddy to explore what a person is willing to do for love and the cost. Meghie has a directorial style that produces an engaging and visually striking movie that makes best use of its actors. Amandla’s Maddy is sweet, wide-eyed and trusting. Robinson’s Olly is quixotic, broody, and conflicted. The combination is an awkwardly adorable romance in the making. As each woos the other and struggles with the limitations of Maddy’s circumstances the audience watches as questions and obstacles push each toward decisions that ultimately turn their world on its head.
It’s a poignant look at not only first love but familial love because Everything, Everything has an underlying subplot about truth and consequences. With a much subtler hand, this film brings to life a parent’s struggle doing what’s best for their children and knowing when (and how) to let go. It brings a bit more depth to this cozy tale of first love that saves it from being overwrought teenage angst.
This is a story of love in more ways than one.
The Downside (more for the bookworms in attendance): The story doesn’t probe as deeply into the family dynamic (of either teen) as much as it could. There are moments where it could’ve added to the sentiment and investment in the characters building up to the movies climatic reveals. Choosing not to do so let’s people off easy for some seriously jacked up choices and the resultant harm. It doesn’t detract from the story but it does make it feel a little disingenuous at the end. This is a problem of script not source material Yoon certainly delves into these issue with her characters. Without it you’re left with a sweet movie but one that doesn’t move you as much as it could’ve.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face… or kiss the boy next door? “Everything, Everything” tells the unlikely love story of Maddy, a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, and Olly, the boy next door who won’t let that stop them. Maddy is desperate to experience the much more stimulating outside world, and the promise of her first romance. Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, she and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together…even if it means losing everything.
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Anika Noni Rose
Directed by: Stella Meghie
Screenplay by: J. Mills Goodloe
Based on the bestselling book by Nicola Yoon